639769 research-article2016

TAJ0010.1177/2040622316639769Therapeutic Advances in Chronic DiseaseWW IsHak, DM James

Therapeutic Advances in Chronic Disease

Original Research

Patient-reported functioning in major depressive disorder Waguih William IsHak, David M. James, James Mirocha, Haidy Youssef, Gabriel Tobia, Sarah Pi, Katherine L. Collison and Robert M. Cohen

Ther Adv Chronic Dis 2016, Vol. 7(3) 160­–169 DOI: 10.1177/ 2040622316639769 © The Author(s), 2016. Reprints and permissions: http://www.sagepub.co.uk/ journalsPermissions.nav

Abstract Objectives: Compared with the general population, patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) report substantial deficits in their functioning that often go beyond the clinical resolution of depressive symptoms. This study examines the impact of MDD and its treatment on functioning. Methods: From the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) trial, we analyzed complete data of 2280 adult outpatients with MDD at entry and exit points of each level of antidepressant treatment and again 12 months post treatment. Functioning was measured using the Work and Social Adjustment Scale (WSAS). Results: The results show that only 7% of patients with MDD reported within-normal functioning before treatment. The proportion of patients achieving within-normal functioning (WSAS) scores significantly increased after treatment. However, the majority of patients (>60%) were still in the abnormal range on functioning at exit. Although remitted patients had greater improvements compared with nonremitters, a moderate proportion of remitted patients continued to experience ongoing deficits in functioning after treatment (20–40%). Follow-up data show that the proportions of patients experiencing normal scores for functioning after 12 months significantly decreased from the end of treatment to the followup phase, from 60.1% to 49% (p < 0.0001), a finding that was particularly significant in nonremitters. Limitations of this study include the reliance on self-report of functioning and the lack of information on patients who dropped out. Conclusion: This study points to the importance of functional outcomes of MDD treatment as well as the need to develop personalized interventions to improve functioning in MDD.

Keywords:  functional outcomes, functioning, major depressive disorder, Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression trial

Introduction Functioning refers to one’s ability to work, form and maintain relationships, and engage in leisure and other life activities, and can be rated by others or through self-reporting [Ustün and Kennedy, 2009]. In short, functioning describes a person’s everyday performance. Compared with the general population, patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) report substantial deficits in their functioning [Lin et al. 2014b; Trivedi et al. 2013]. Some studies even documented that the severity of functional impairments associated with depression are comparable to or even worse than those associated with other major medical

problems [Hays et al. 1995]. Functional impairment often overlaps with depressive symptom severity [Greer et  al. 2010]. Importantly, these deficiencies in functioning seem to continue even after symptom resolution [Trivedi et  al. 2013; Hirschfeld, 2002; Kennedy et  al. 2007], leading to increased frequency of relapse and increasing cost of care [McKnight, 2009]. Moreover, symptom severity in MDD seems to explain a small proportion of variance in functioning impairment [Romera et  al. 2013]. Functioning significantly improves with remission [Trivedi et  al. 2009], especially with specific remission criteria of complete remission of symptoms, absence of residual

Correspondence to: Waguih William IsHak, MD, FAPA Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, CedarsSinai Medical Center, 8730 Alden Drive, Thalians E-132, Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA [email protected] David M. James, BA James Mirocha, MS Haidy Youssef, MD Gabriel Tobia, MD Sarah Pi, BS Katherine L. Collison, BA Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, CedarsSinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA Robert M. Cohen, PhD, MD Department of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA

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WW IsHak, DM James et al. symptoms, maintenance of remission, quality of remission and early remission [Romera et  al. 2013]. However, a number of studies showed that several factors other than remission of the depressive episode could directly influence functioning, such as comorbid pain with MDD [Lin et  al. 2013], combining pharmacotherapy with psychotherapy [Lam et  al. 2013], weight and body mass index [Lin et al. 2014a], demographics factors such as social class [Falconnier, 2010], presence of comorbid personality disorder, social support, Global Assessment of Function (GAF) score prior to the depressive episode [Ezquiaga et  al. 1998], comorbid anxiety with depression [Hecht et  al. 1989], family relations and family dysfunction [Puig-Antich et  al. 1993], suicidal ideation [Marzuk et al. 2005], number of depressive episodes, family history of psychiatric disorders [Sanchez-Moreno et  al. 2010], duration of depressive episode [Lagerveld et  al. 2010], specific antidepressants [Venditti et al. 2000; Dubini et al. 1997], and patient’s view of self and world [Zauszniewski and Rong, 1999]. Remission or decreasing symptom severity in depression might not be enough to demonstrate true recovery, and increased emphasis should be placed on functioning as an important indicator of treatment success [Langlieb and Guico-Pabia, 2010; Kongsakon, 2005]. In this current analysis, we sought to study functioning in MDD by analyzing the data from the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) trial [Rush et  al. 2004; Fava et  al. 2003], the largest prospective, randomized study of treatment effectiveness for outpatients with MDD. Published STAR*D analyses of functioning in MDD [Rush et al. 2004, 2006] provided an initial understanding of functional impairments in MDD. The magnitude of impairments before treatment, how functioning changed in response to treatment, and the statistical or clinical significance of these changes, however, remained to be examined. The current analysis examines functioning and symptom severity data at entry and exit of each of the four levels of acute treatment phase and 12 months after the end of treatment in the STAR*D study in order to address the following questions. (1) How extensive are the functioning impairments in patients with MDD before treatment? (2) To what extent does functioning improve with each level of treatment, and how much

are improvements maintained 12 months after acute treatment ends? (3) Does remission (after any treatment step) improve functioning relative to levels seen in the general population? Methods Study population The STAR*D study was conducted at 18 primary care and 23 psychiatric care settings in the United States and funded by the National Institute of Mental health (NIMH). The authors of the present analysis obtained an NIMH Data Use Certificate to use the STAR*D Public Version 3 dataset. STAR*D enrolled 4041 treatment-seeking outpatients aged 18–75 years between 2001 and 2007 with a primary diagnosis of MDD. Full details of the study’s methodology are described elsewhere [Rush et al. 2004; Fava et al. 2003]. To be eligible for the current analysis, participants needed to have complete data for each of the outcome measures detailed below, at both entry and exit for each level of the study. All patients entered treatment at level 1 and progressed through levels until they achieved remission. That is, patients who achieved remission from treatment at level 1 exited treatment at that point. Those who did not achieve remission progressed to level 2 of the treatment, and so on. Data were collected at the entry and exit points for each level, as well as follow-up data collected 12 months after exiting the final level of treatment. Because complete data on functioning measures were only available for 2280 patients, the analyzed dataset in this study contained 2280 level 1 participants, 749 level 2 participants, 190 level 3 participants, 56 level 4 participants, and 414 participants from all levels at 12-month follow up. Treatments administered The treatment interventions are fully detailed elsewhere [Fava et al. 2003; Rush et al. 2004]. Briefly, treatments were administered according to a fixedflexible dosing schedule and modified based on each participant’s response. Patients were transitioned out of acute treatment and to the follow-up phase if they achieved remission from the first level of treatment. If they did not achieve remission, they moved to the next level of acute treatment. Participants were enrolled into the following STAR*D levels. Level 1: citalopram monotherapy; level 2: switching to sertraline, sustained release

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Therapeutic Advances in Chronic Disease 7(3) (SR) bupropion, extended release (XR) venlafaxine, or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT); or augmenting with bupropion SR, buspirone; or CBT; level 3: switching to nortriptyline or mirtazapine; or augmenting with lithium or triiodothyronine (T3); level 4: switching to tranylcypromine; or switching to venlafaxine XR plus mirtazapine. The study used an equipoise stratified randomized design which allowed patients a choice between several switch or augmentation strategies, within the permissible limits of the study design. This approach was adopted in lieu of complete randomization to mimic clinical practice [Rush et  al. 2006]. During the follow-up phase, patients were strongly advised to continue taking the previously effective drugs [Rush et al. 2012]. Outcome measures The Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology Self-Report (QIDS-SR) was used to measure MDD symptom severity (0 = not depressed to 27 = most depressed) with remission defined as a score less than 5 [Rush et al. 2003]. Functioning was measured using the Work and Social Adjustment Scale (WSAS) where 0 = no impairment to 40 = severe impairment, with scores greater than 20 indicating moderate to severe impairment; 10–20 = significant impairment; and less than 10 = subclinical [Mundt et  al. 2002]. The WSAS has fairly strong psychometric properties (Cronbach’s α = 0.70–0.94, test–retest reliability r = 0.73 [Mundt et al. 2002]). Statistical methods Summary values are expressed as means (SD) for continuous variables and frequencies (%) for categorical variables. The paired t test was used for comparisons between entry and exit numerical outcomes, within each level. Clinical significance for numerical outcomes was estimated using effect sizes [Kraemer, 2006] in which Cohen’s d values of 0.2, 0.5 and 0.8 describe small, medium and large effects, respectively [Cohen, 1988]. Entry to exit comparisons of binary variables within each level and follow up were assessed using the McNemar test for related proportions. The proportions of patients that scored ‘within normal’ on the relevant measures were compared between remitters and nonremitters at exit, using the χ2 test (or Fisher exact test for small sample sizes). p values less than 0.05 were considered

Table 1.  Demographic characteristics of STAR*D major depressive disorder sample. Number of subjects Age range Mean age (SD) Female White Hispanic College graduate Employed Living with spouse/partner

2280 (100%) 18.1–75.6 42.6 (13.0) 1432 (62.8%) 1846 (80.9%) 239 (10.5%) 686 (30.1%) 1301 (57.1%) 1046 (45.9%)

STAR*D, Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression.

statistically significant. Analyses were performed using SAS software, version 9.2 (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA). Results Demographics of the study population The demographic characteristics of the analyzed patient sample (n = 2280) are depicted in Table 1. The majority of patients were white (81%), with nearly 63% women, 57% employed, 30% college graduates, and 46% living with spouse or partner. Mean scores on measures of depressive symptom severity and functioning Pre- and post-treatment scores for both depressive symptom severity (as measured by the QIDS-SR) and functioning (as measured by the WSAS) for each STAR*D level, in addition to scores at entry and exit from the 12-month follow-up phase are displayed in Table 2. The pre- and post-treatment data from each level show that patients made statistically and clinically significant improvements on both outcome measures. Depressive symptom severity (QIDS-SR scores) showed the following effect sizes (Cohen’s d) at the end of each treatment level: d = 0.93 at level 1, d = 0.65 at level 2, d = 0.43 at level 3 and d = 0.64 at level 4 (p < 0.0001 for all). Functioning (WSAS scores) yielded the following effect sizes: level 1 Cohen’s d = 0.74 (p < 0.0001), level 2 d=0.58 (p < 0.0001), level 3 d=0.29 (p < 0.0001) and level

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WW IsHak, DM James et al. Table 2.  Mean and SD of measures of depressive symptom severity (QIDS-SR) and functioning (WSAS), with mean (SD) of change and effect sizes from the STAR*D study. Level*


QIDS-SR entry (SD)

QIDS-SR exit (SD)

Change (SD)



1 2 3 4 12-month f/u

2280 749 190 56 414

15.4 (5) 14.3 (4.7) 15.5 (4.8) 16.4 (4.6) 5.6 (3.7)

9.4 (6.5) 10.5 (6.5) 13.1 (6.3) 12.3 (6.5) 7.7 (5.7)

–6.0 (6.5) –3.8 (5.8) –2.4 (5.6) –4.1 (6.3) 2.2 (5.1)

Patient-reported functioning in major depressive disorder.

Compared with the general population, patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) report substantial deficits in their functioning that often go bey...
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